BOSTON — The U.S.S. Constitution named one of its cannons in honor of the first woman to serve as a chief petty officer in the Navy.
The 24-pound long gun was named Perfectus after Loretta Perfectus Walsh during a ceremony in Boston on Sunday marking Women’s History Month, the Navy said in a statement.
Walsh was sworn in as the Navy’s first chief petty officer on March 21, 1917.
“Loretta Perfectus Walsh has made it possible for all women to serve in the military,” Command Senior Chief Angela Collins said. “I get to be here because of the women who have gone before me, and I get the honor to serve with amazing women every single day.”
Four of the warship’s female crew members gave a presentation on the significance of Walsh’s service.
“To talk about Loretta Perfectus Walsh’s life holds great meaning for me and everyone around us,” Seaman Katrina Mastrolia said. “It gives me hope and determination to face the boundaries that I have in my life today.”
The U.S.S Constitution, also known as Old Ironsides, is the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat, and played a crucial role in the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812, actively defending sea lanes from 1797 until 1855. The ship was undefeated in battle and destroyed or captured 33 enemy vessels.
It earned its nickname during the War of 1812 when British cannonballs were seen bouncing off its wooden hull.
Early sailors frequently named the guns on their ships.
And although there are no records for the original names of the U.S.S. Constitution’s guns, some have been given names based on records from her sister ships. These include Brother Jonathan, True Blue, Yankee Protection, Putnam, Raging Eagle, Viper, General Warren, Mad Anthony, America, Washington, Liberty for Ever, Defiance, and Liberty or Death.
The U.S.S. Constitution’s modern cannons are replicas dating to 1920.